Kashmiri Pandits should return NOW!

The Homecoming…

In 1990 when exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was at its peak, one of my Pandit colleagues who was much interested to stay back against all odds, asked for my suggestion, whether it is wise to stay or leave the valley. For almost three weeks I tried to persuade him with logic to stay back but ultimately I had to relent because by the time situation had turned so ugly that even the majority community was feeling apprehensive. No one could have stopped exodus of Pandits at that particular time because it was an orchestrated plan by some vested interests within the state as they were implementing a much bigger plot of ethnic cleansing in Kashmir in which they apparently tried to ensure safety of the Pandits.  Migration—detachment from ones roots is the most tragic and painful decision and no human being would accept it willingly. Exodus of Pandits was the most catastrophic aspect of vexed Kashmir scenario and no single entity can be held responsible for this disgraceful experience. However, most of the Pandit community unknowingly played into the hands of some vested interests and did not resist the deceivable ploys of dissecting Kashmir and its harmonious society.  The version of Kashmiri Pandit migration will be written in the bloody chronicles of Kashmir history with ambiguity surrounding all around it along with many dreaded but veiled faces of deception and disintegration.   
It is now more than two decades that majority of Pandit community has left Kashmir and got settled in many parts of the country and abroad. During this period much of the ethnic, linguistic and cultural character of this otherwise cohesive community experienced drastic transformation both for the good and worst.
Their departure has robbed this beautiful land  (Kashmir) of its aroma of knowledge, splendor of kinship and intimacy. However, they were able to maintain and excel their level of knowledge and education as compared to their fellow Kashmiris back home. Most of the migrant community members are prosperous even against all odds excepting the Pandits who were related to Agriculture and its allied sectors because they lost command and control over their holdings. Even much far away from their roots the community could sustain because of their knowledge, wisdom, hard work and high endurance level. Of course they were provided all possible support by the state and other social organization to sustain and live a dignified life but their heart always lied somewhere else—in greener pastures of Kashmir. Many opportunistic elements within the Pandit community exploited their exodus and designed banishment and tried to become champions of the community. Initially they succeeded in garnering support but once their evil designs were open for scrutiny before saner elements of the community, they got exposed and lost. Now these smaller exploitative groups have confined their activity to close door seminars and occasional effigy burning rituals. Better sense was always there with this community but this time round it has successfully overcome their hypothetical obsession to vague apprehensions inculcated within their mindset by the vested interests and they are fast reverting back to their inbuilt traits of reasoning and logic.   
For the  past many years most of the Pandits have shown their earnest desire to come back to their roots; their longing for Kashmir, Kashmir language, and unique Kashmiri culture has grown many folds. More and more community members visit Kashmir almost in every season along with their families, especially at the instance of their younger generation. The keen interest of the younger Pandits in their roots and Kashmiri ethos augurs well for the centuries old communal harmony within Kashmiri society and its future. Majority community in Kashmir  has always been on the fore front to encourage return of Pandits and all most every separatist and mainstream political spectrum has put its weight behind this heartfelt desire of the Kashmir Muslims. Even hardliners like Syed Alish Gilani has taken the most reasonable stand when it comes to Pandits and their return. If I am not exaggerating, he had been advocating respectable return of Kashmiri Pandits and their safety from the day one.

 At this juncture Kashmiri Pandits have to take a bold step, come back to their motherland and be part of the larger Kashmir—a land of tolerance, amity and love . Instead of behaving as fly by night visitors, collecting employment package incentives and subsidies, they should stay through thick and thin alongside the majority community and frustrate the sinister designs of some vested interests bent upon ruining the age-old ‘Kashmiriyat’.